EEOC Equal Pay and National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit Settled

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EEOC Phoenix District Office

From:  Krista Watson

Press Release


January 3, 2017



Mary Jo O’Neill

Regional Attorney

(602) 640 5044


 Wasan A. Awad

 Trial Attorney

 (602) 640-5032



Female Paid Less Than Male Co-Worker For Doing Similar Work and Told Not to Speak Spanish on Production Floor Though It Was Part of Her Job


                     Albuquerque, NM- - The U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Kevothermal, a manufacturer of vacuum insulation panels, will pay $60,000 and furnish injunctive relief to settle an EEOC lawsuit based on the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


                     EEOC filed the lawsuit to obtain relief for Ms. Guerra, a former employee, who worked as a supervisor for Kevothermal. EEOC contends that Kevothermal did not pay Ms. Guerra as much as a male supervisor, even though they performed the same job duties and had comparable experience and responsibilities. Instead, Kevothermal paid Ms. Guerra less, even after she complained about the disparate wages. According to EEOC’s suit, Ms. Guerra had worked for the company prior to the male supervisor’s hiring and, in fact, had trained him. Such conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which prohibits discrimination in compensation on the basis of sex. Such conduct also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) which prohibits wage discrimination based on sex.


EEOC’s suit also alleged that Ms. Guerra, who is Hispanic, was instructed not to speak Spanish on the production floor, even though it was part of her job to do so. Specifically, Ms. Guerra translated for other employees who only spoke Spanish. EEOC alleged that Kevothermal’s restrictive language policy was national origin discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


EEOC filed EEOC v. Kevothermal, LLC (1:16-cv-852-MCA-LF) in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In addition to paying $60,000 to Ms. Guerra, Kevothermal must also provide training on the EPA, national origin discrimination and retaliation to non-managerial employees, managers, supervisors and Kevothermal’s human resource official. Kevothermal is also required to implement a policy that prohibits discrimination based on sex, including unequal wages, and that prohibits national origin discrimination. Additionally, Kevothermal will ensure that its policy includes an explanation of how to report discrimination and an assurance of non-retaliation to employees who complain. Kevothermal will also regularly review its compliance with the EPA and adjust its employees’ compensation, if the company finds any disparity between the wages paid to employees of the opposite sex, who work in equal positions.


                     “Wage gaps have a wide and long-lasting impact, not only for the women who are paid less, but also for their children and families. The gap follows these women throughout their entire career, even affecting their retirement benefits. These broad impacts amount to nothing less than wage theft,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney for the Phoenix District Office.


“Enforcing equal pay laws is an important priority for the EEOC,” commented Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle. “EEOC will continue to advocate for employees to be paid equally when they perform substantially equal work and ensure compliance with Title VII and the EPA.”  


EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.


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